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03.09.2015, 17:10
Veszprem impress most with exceptional pre-season
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FEATURE: ehfcl.com journalists analysed the preparation of the VELUX EHF Champions League participants to compose a pre-season power ranking

»EHF CL Channel »2015-16 Men's News
»
 

Veszprem impress most with exceptional pre-season

A number of ehfcl.com journalists gave their in-depth view of the pre-season performances of the VELUX EHF Champions League clubs.

The clear message from their combined rankings is that 2015 VELUX EHF FINAL4 finalists Veszprem Handball Club have impressed most this summer. Check out the top 10 below.

Pre-season power ranking:

10 – MOL-Pick Szeged (HUN) / RK PPD Zagreb (CRO)

It was a dead heat between the Hungarian runners-up and the Croatian champions in terms of pre-season performances. Szeged took some wins against domestic rivals, then made it to the final of the Kaniza tournament, but were defeated by Vardar. Finally, they were close to reaching their first trophy of the season, but narrowly failed against Veszprem in the Hungarian super cup (24:26).

A rejuvenated Zagreb team - despite missing some injured players such as Valcic, Vujic and Mandalinic - showed some impressive form with eight wins and only two defeats (against Kiel and Berlin at the tournament in Ehingen/Germany). Their tournament trophy at Marrane (France) is a good platform to build on for the new season.

9 - ORLEN Wisla Plock (POL)

To replace Kamil Syprzak and Mariusz Jurkiewicz was no easy task, but coach Manuel Cadenas knew how to adapt his squad to the new situation. Plock won most of their test matches, including victories over Motor Zaporozhye and St. Petersburg, but suffered defeats to Meshkov Brest and St. Rafael.

8 - THW Kiel (GER)

Hit by injuries, the three-time Champions League winners were unable to impress in their pre-season campaign. Kiel were defeated by Veszprem, Barcelona and even German side Erlangen, but finally they beat Zagreb (30:26) and Flensburg. These victories show they are back on track, even without former captain Filip Jicha.

7 – Rhein-Neckar Löwen (GER)

Victories against lower division German teams, Aalborg, Silkeborg and Winterthur and a defeat against Flensburg made up Löwen’s preparation. Line player Rafael Baena still needs some time to step into the shoes of Bjarte Myrhol, but new goalkeeper duo Stanic/Apelgren appear to have fit quite well as a team.

6 - SG Flensburg-Handewitt (GER)

The 2013/14 VELUX EHF Champions League winners did not have big problems in integrating their new big name arrivals Lauge, Toft Hansen and Mahe. They won all pre-season matches, including a tournament final in Bremen against Rhein-Neckar Löwen (23:19) and a number of Scandinavian clubs such as Kristianstad, Sävehof and Mors-Thy before. The only defeat was by a single goal in the German super cup against Kiel.

5 - Vive Tauron Kielce (POL)

Compared to their opponents, Kielce did not have that many test matches, but were fully focused on training and the organisation of the record-breaking match against Paris Saint-Germain Handball in Krakow, attended by more than 15,000 fans. The performance on court was fantastic at times in the 32:32 draw against the French heavyweights, in contrast to the previous tests against Motor Zaporozhye (32:32, 35:37).

4 - Vardar Skopje (MKD)

Vardar were victorious in each and every one of their pre-season matches. The Macedonian champions won the tournaments in Kaniza (HUN) and Skopje, including victories against Champions League clubs such as Szeged, Kristianstad and Chekhovskie Medvedi. Newcomers Dereven and Manaskov look as if they are already well-adapted to the squad of Raul Gonzalez.

3 - Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)

Funny enough it was not newcomer Nikola Karabatic who had the biggest impact in pre-season, but Mikkel Hansen – highlighted by his incredible 18 goals in the final test match in Krakow against Kielce last Saturday. Previously the Parisians had a heavy series of matches and were only beaten once: in the final of the traditional Eurotournoi at Strasbourg, by Veszprem (31:32). It was obvious that the attack is the current strength of the club, displayed by 36 goals against Schaffhausen, 44 strikes against La Rioja and 45 against Aix-en Provence.

2 - FC Barcelona Lassa (ESP)

Defending Champions League champions FC Barcelona Lassa’s pre-season has been limited in terms of matches so far, but they have been impressive in their outings. The Catalan giants set their stall from the very beginning with a win over THW Kiel in Kiel by 21:16, followed by easy going wins in the Catalan super cup and Spanish super cup wins over BM Granollers. All this without their big summer arrival, Filip Jicha (from Kiel) taking the court yet. Barcelona head to Doha next week on the hunt for a third consecutive Super Globe triumph.

1 - Veszprem Handball Club (HUN)

Nine matches, nine wins - and as the icing on the cake a 31:24 in the re-match of the victorious 2015 final against Meshkov Brest to begin the SEHA Liga on Tuesday night. Carlos Antonio Ortega’s men are ready to rumble. Veszprem showed an impressive form in their pre-season, including wins against their upcoming group phase opponents THW Kiel (32:19) and Paris Saint-Germain (32:31). In addition, they beat defending EHF Cup champions Füchse Berlin (26:24) and took their first domestic trophy by winning the Hungarian Super Cup against MOL-Pick Szeged (26:24). Veszprem may get an early chance to avenge the 23:28 VELUX EHF FINAL4 defeat to Barcelona at the IHF Super Globe in Doha.


TEXT: Björn Pazen / cor
 
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